North Colombo Medical College

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North Colombo Medical College (NCMC) was the first privately funded medical school in Sri Lanka. It started in 1980 with the admission of 100 local and 20 foreign students. The first batch of students began graduating in 1990. Dr. Heenilame was its first chairman and Dr. W.D. Ratnavelle, its first director. It was nationalized in 1989 and became the Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya. The first batch of students of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya completed their five-year course and graduated with the MBBS degree in September 1996.


The creation of the NCMC, a non-profit, fee-levying graduate medical institution is considered as one of the greatest achievements of the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka.

Dr G M Heennilame is the father of North Colombo Medical College. His idea of establishing a private graduate medical college was one he had been advocating since 1975. It was an idea frowned upon as unattainable. However, in 1979, Dr Walter Gooneratne and a few others convinced of the feasibility and necessity for a private medical college joined him. In November 1979 the college appointed a Project Implementation Committee comprising Drs Heennilame, Aloysius and Gooneratne “to take all necessary steps to start an undergraduate medical college.”

Between April and July 1980, Drs Sathis Jayasinghe, W D Ratnavale and Shelton Cabraal joined the team. On July 4, 1980 the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka appointed the Board of Governors and director of the North Colombo Medical College. The Board of Governors appointed were Drs Heennilame, Aloysius, Gooneratne, Jayasinghe and Cabraal. Dr WD Ratnavale was appointed director. The NCMC has produced 800 outstanding doctors practicing medicine throughout the world, some of whom graduated from foreign medical schools upon transfer and 608 of whom graduated from the NCMC.

Dr Stanley Kalpage appropriately described this achievement as “truly a miracle”. After all, when these six persons were appointed, the project had no funds, no office, no staff, nothing in writing about approval and little credibility. Yet within one year and two months on 21 September 1981, the president of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Junius Richard Jayewardene, ceremonially opened the North Colombo Medical College.

The college placed on record those who helped to make the NCMC a reality, with their encouragement and assistance. These included President J R Jayewardene who, from 1979 till the end of his term of office, provided invaluable support. Dr Stanley Kalpage as chairman of the University Grants Commission (Sri Lanka) and secretary of Higher Education played a similar role. The others who provided assistance included Prof Stanley Wijesundera and the academic staff of the University of Colombo, Dr Malinga Fernando, L H R Peiris, Gamini Jayasuriya, B C Perera and Edward Arambawela.

The only Pakistani student to graduate was Dr. Mohammed Munir Khan in 1993; all other Pakistani students migrated and got admission to universities in Pakistan.[citation needed]